For hardware hobbyists looking to test their coding abilities or to test the limits of plug-and-play logic boards, they gravitate towards products like Lemon and Raspberry Pis. Heavy-duty reference hardware, however, is quite another story.

Startups in emerging verticals will cling onto the latest silicon with a few appropriate vestiges like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 reference kit for VR.

Huawei, with its HiSilicon subsidiary, has been working with producer Linaro to make boards of their own based on Kirin SoCs for interested parties to play with, though with a more commercial goal in mind.

At the Linaro Developer Conference in Hong Kong this week, the pair have taken the next step in reference hardware with the 97Boards series based on the Kirin 970 SoC with its dedicated neural co-processors, machine learning skillsets and artificial intelligence links with Huawei’s HiAI SDK.

The HiKey 970 logic board is the debutante of the series and — from what we can tell out of GizmoChina‘s image — comes with two full USB ports, one USB-C port, an Ethernet jack, an HDMI port and a flash memory slot for I/O. The product is being targeted for the typical futurist targets that are being talked about these days — 5G, “smart cities,” “smart auto” and robots. It will be available from mid-April at a price to be determined, though the HiKey 960 board itself was priced at $239.

Linaro works with clients to develop and create ARM-based reference boards.

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